Pakistan’s “three-headed monster” bows out. RIP Comrade Sobho Gianchandani.


Dr Sarwar and Sobho Gianchandani at our house in Karachi, January 2008. It was a cold evening and both were reluctant to be photographed. Babba because he was unwell, and Sobho ji because he didn’t want to remove the muffler wrapped around his head and ears.

Sad to hear that Comrade Sobho Gianchandani is no more. He passed away in Larkana on Dec 8, nearly 95 years old. He lives on as an inspiration to all those seeking a better, more just, humane society. The last time we met was in July 2003, when he came over with his daughter and two of his grandsons to visit us as he often did when visiting Karachi. He made it a point to do so particularly after his close friend, my father Dr Sarwar passed away in 2009.

Below, my brief video profile of him for Geo TV (2003) in which he talks about his lifelong struggle for people’s rights. This, he said was his real struggle, the struggle for social justice by any name, rather than a fight against imperialism or extremism. And a 2002 feature I wrote about him (couldn’t find an online copy). Continue reading

A Peace Convention and the wisdom of Ali Nawaz

Article posted to my yahoogroup in June 2002  – the Rs 4000 minimum that Ali Nawaz from Balochistan talked about now would be more like Rs 10,000 (right, economists?). Although little has changed for him and people like him, the ‘Balochistan package’ and the historic NFC award agreed upon on Dec 11 at least offer some hope in terms of more equitable resource distribution and opportunities. This is the difference between dictatorship (no matter how mild) and democracy (no matter how messed up)

The News on Sunday, Jun 16, 2002

A Peace Convention and the wisdom of Ali Nawaz

by Beena Sarwar

Ali Nawaz works at a motorcycle factory at Hub Chowki in Balochistan, near Somiani, the sun-baked coastal area from where Pakistan recently test-fired the nuclear-capable Abdali missile as a warning to a war-ready India. From here, it takes over two hours to get to Karachi, driving east along the coast of the Arabian Sea. On Saturday June 8, along with some two dozen of his fellow workers, Nawaz made this journey using the factory van headed to the noise and rush of Saddar in the heart of Karachi.

The motorcycle workers are not interested in the bazaar; besides the fact that they can’t afford the goods on sale, there are more important things on their mind — like the Peace Convention organized at the Karachi Press Club by the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) and the National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan.

As many as twenty five out of the forty one workers at Nawaz’s factory attended the Convention of their own accord. Why? Continue reading

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